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Army helicopter crashes on campus

An Army Black Hawk helicopter crashed into a field on the campus of Texas A&M University during a field training exercise Monday, killing one person and injuring four others aboard.

The Army UH-60 helicopter crashed Monday near the Corps of Cadets field on the school’s College Station campus, about 100 miles northwest of Houston. No students were among the injured.

A crew of four from the Army National Guard and an Army lieutenant assigned to the school’s ROTC unit were the only ones aboard the Black Hawk, Texas A&M spokesman Lane Stephenson said.

Sheila Rinard with College Station Medical Center said two of the crash victims were in critical condition and a third was in stable condition.

Another crash victim was at St. Joseph Regional Health Center in Bryan, a spokesman said. That person’s condition wasn’t immediately known. One person on the ground was hit by flying debris and suffered minor injuries, Stephenson said.

Officials did not release the names of the dead and injured.

Concord, N.H.

Gay bishop will open inauguration

The first openly gay Episcopal bishop will say a prayer at the Lincoln Memorial for one of President-elect Barack Obama’s first inauguration events.

New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson will deliver the invocation at an event on Sunday to kick off inauguration festivities. His selection follows weeks of criticism from gay-rights groups over Obama’s decision to have the Rev. Rick Warren give the invocation at his Jan. 20 inauguration.

Warren had backed a recent ballot measure banning same-sex marriage in his home state of California.

Robinson has said he was stung by Warren’s selection, but still believes Obama will be the most supportive president ever for gay-rights causes.

Manila, Philippines

Pirates release ship, Filipino crew

Somali pirates have freed a Japanese-operated bulk carrier with 21 Filipino crewmen they seized in October, a Philippine official said today, the third ship to be released in a week.

Philippine Foreign Affairs spokesman Bayani Mangibin confirmed that the African Sanderling and its all-Filipino crew were released Sunday.

He gave no other details, and it was not clear if a ransom was paid, as is usually the case. The Panamanian-flagged and South Korean-owned ship was seized while en route to Asia from the Middle East.

Kiev, Ukraine

Russia to restart gas shipment

Russia’s state gas monopoly has promised to resume shipping Europe-bound gas through Ukraine this morning, nearly a week after it shut off the taps and forced countless Europeans to huddle cold and resentful in freezing homes.

However, a spokesman for the Gazprom monopoly indicated lingering problems could still prolong the crisis.

The deputy chairman of the Gazprom monopoly, Alexander Medvedev, said gas supplies would be started today “if there are no obstacles.”

From wire reports